Despite camps being closed this summer, 62 percent according to the American Camp Association recent surveys, those that remained open or somewhat open during the pandemic have been helping children and staff understand and get through the crisis.

At the Norman Bird Sanctuary, Boys and Girls Club of Newport County, Fab Newport, and MLK Community Center camps and programs for kids, Newport Mental Health’s Marcia Tryon  (LMHC) has been tapping into the emotional side of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re grateful to Newport Mental Health for providing emotional support to the MLK’s kids during these very difficult days in Newport County. Our summer campers have learned strategies for talking about their feelings and how to deal with all the different emotions that have arisen in these unprecedented times.” said Heather Hole Strout, Executive Director.

In a Feelings Workshop, Tryon uses a life-sized laminated body to coax children into talking about their feelings. Once children label where they may experience the feeling of sadness or fear, for example, they are better able to give a tangible focus to their emotions. These enhanced clinical services have been made possible with support from the Rhode Island Foundation’s COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund.

With funding from a federal Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) grant and the state’s Behavioral Health Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) Newport Mental Health is further enhancing services to youth and parents during the pandemic, and will be opening a new clinic in Newport this fall.

“This is not an easy time. People are confused and rightly so,” said Newport Mental Health CEO and President, Jamie Lehane. “We’ve been fortunate to capture a number of grants, which are enabling us to set up more comprehensive programs for youth.”

 The youth clinic will work with 12-25 year olds with emerging and severe mental health disorders become more emotionally self-aware, self-sufficient and stable. Often mental health challenges rob youth of their ability to find meaning, social connections and function in society.

“By catching these signs and symptoms early, youth begin to lead more productive lives,” said Lehane.  According to the World Health Organization, the average time when people first notice mental health symptoms and the time they get professional help is between eight to 10 years. Lehane added that young adults can show signs of mental health challenges when they withdraw from their usual activities, isolate themselves or begin to show changes in their appearance and habits, which may have previously brought them pleasure.

Parents, too, can get more guidance in unraveling mental health concerns by attending Newport Mental Health’s virtual Mental Health First Aid course for parents. Like CPR, the interactive course will help participants determine the signs and symptoms of an emerging mental health disorder and a crisis and how best and most effectively communicate and help youth.

The $23.95 course will be held September 22-23 from 5-7PM. Scholarships are available. Deadline for registration is September 10. For more information and registration visit:

Source: Newport Mental Health

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